BOX OFFICE IS BLOOD SUCKED
Vampires had a field day at the box office over the weekend, leaving it nearly bloodless. Sony's 30 Days of Night took in $16 million and last weekend's Why Did I Get Married?, $12 million, but they were the only two films to finish in double digits. Of seven other films (in addition to Night) that opened over the weekend -- a record number -- the highest grossing film was Fox Atomic's The Comebacks, which earned just $5.6 million to finish fifth, followed closely by Miramax's Gone Baby Gone with $5.5 million.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. 30 Days of Night, Sony, $15,951,902, (New); 2. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, Lionsgate, $12,186,011, 2 Wks. ($38,95,0,821); 3. The Game Plan, Disney, $8,178,646, 4 Wks. ($69,20,6,626); 4. Michael Clayton, Warner Bros., $6,677,272, 3 Wks. ($21,56,3,586); 5. The Comebacks, Fox Atomic, $5,554,594, (New); 6. Gone Baby Gone, Miramax, $5,501,406, (New); 7. We Own the Night, Sony, $5,420,793, 2 Wks. ($19,70,4,516); 8. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney, $5,330,101, (New/Re-release); 9. Rendition, New Line, $4,060,012, (New); 10. The Heartbreak Kid, Paramount, $3,814,636, 3 Wks. ($32,02,5,396).
RAT BOLSTERS MOUSE OVERSEAS
Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille, which wound up with lower-than-expected ticket sales domestically, appears set to exceed expectations overseas. The computer-animated film topped the foreign box office for the third straight weekend with sales of $30.2 million, bringing its total international gross to $310.1 million and making it the third-most-popular Disney/Pixar release behind Finding Nemo and the Incredibles.
STUDIO CAUTIOUS OVER CAUTION
Focus Features has indicated that Ang Lee's award-winning Lust, Caution may never receive a wide release in the U.S. Focus CEO James Schamus told the Associated Press in an email that the U.S. movie market is "insanely overcrowded." He added, "Every art-house film that tries to go wide is having trouble, so while we are going out in every major market and getting great numbers, we are being very cautious until we see how the market shakes out." He called Caution "a very Asian film ... whose politics and sexuality are challenging." So, it would seem, is the film's NC-17 rating. Shamus said that newspapers in Salt Lake City are refusing to carry ads for the movie.
NOW CLOONEY TAKES A TREK
Days after Chris Pine decided not to accept director Joe Carnahan's offer to co-star with George Clooney in White Jazz but accept the role of Captain Kirk in the next Star Trek movie instead, Clooney has also quit the project. In a statement, Grant Heslov, Clooney's producing partner, blamed scheduling problems. However, today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times, reporting on Clooney's departure, commented, "Well-connected Hollywood wags think that the faltering fortunes of Michael Clayton might have had a little to do with Clooney getting cold feet about jumping into a period noir piece, the last few of which -- Hollywoodland and Black Dahlia -- have bombed at the box office." On his official blog Carnahan said that he intended to perform a "full court press" to find a replacement and indicated that the man he has in mind would be "perfect to take over the role." Carnahan added: "I want this movie really, really bad. BAD. And I'm willing to go to the ends of the earth to pull it off."
TRANSFORMERS TRANSFORMS DVD BUSINESS
First-week DVD sales of Paramount/DreamWorks' Transformers totaled 8.3 million copies, more than half of them -- 4.5 million -- sold on the first day, a record for the year. Moreover, the HD DVD edition sold 190,000 copies during the first week, making it the best-selling HD DVD ever. (Paramount/DreamWorks recently agreed to release movies on high-definition video exclusively in the HD DVD format.) In a statement, Paramount Home Entertainment President Kelley Avery said, "We're happy to be kicking off the fourth quarter with a title that clearly shows home entertainment releases are still an event that drives consumers into stores -- which is a win for both content providers and retailers." However, director Michael Bay has indicated that he is unhappy with the DVD release, suggesting that he would have liked to have had a more influential role in its production, but was tied up promoting the movie. "Studios want to pump this stuff out, and my job is to care about it and try to put the right people on it," he told USA Today. "They just see it as a show they are selling, and I see it as a movie. That's how your movie lives on, in the DVD format."
NETFLIX MAKES A COMEBACK
Shares of online video renter Netflix jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading Monday after the company reported earnings of $15.7 million in its third quarter, up 23 percent from the $12.8 million it reported during the same period a year ago. The rise was attributed to the company's decision to lower prices on its most popular subscription plans by $1 per month. The tactic brought 286,000 new customers into Netflix's fold, bringing its total to 7.03 million subscribers, compared to 5.7 million at the end of the third quarter of 2006. The figure is nearly twice the number reported by Blockbuster, which said in June that it had signed up 3.6 million online subscribers. In a statement, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, "Going forward we will remain focused on making our core service even better and growing our online DVD rental business, while continuing to invest in our internet delivery initiatives."
CANADIAN ADMITS SELLING EMAIL TO MPAA
Canadian Robert Anderson claims that he received $15,000 from the MPAA for hacking into the email account of TorrentSpy founder Justin Bunnell and turning over Bunnell's correspondence to MPAA legal director Dean Garfield. In an interview with Wired magazine, Anderson also said that he turned over TorrentSpy's source code to Garfield, allowing the MPAA to set up their own file-sharing site "as a honeypot to ensnare [copyright] infringers."